Madrid, Oct 27 (IANS) Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday called on senators to approve direct rule over Catalonia, amid an escalating crisis over the region’s push for independence.
He said he wanted to dismiss Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, his Vice President and all regional ministers, reports the BBC.
Rajoy’s speech was met with applause in the Spanish senate, where his Partido Popular has a majority.
The decision was taken following an overnight debate over Catalonia’s future in the Senate.
Rajoy said he was calling for exceptional measures because there was no other choice and said “law, democracy and stability” needed to be returned to Catalonia which held a disputed independence referendum on October 1.
He accused the Catalan government of dividing families and fracturing society. Many people had already suffered too much, he said, and the uncertainty was driving businesses out of the region.
“The thing that Catalans need protecting from is not what they’re calling Spanish imperialism, but a minority who, in an intolerant way, declare themselves the owners of Catalonia and consider as exclusive a history, culture and feelings that are the heritage of the community,” the BBC quoted Rajoy as saying.
The Senate is expected to back the Prime Minister’s proposals, which also have the support of opposition parties.
The Catalan parliament could respond by declaring independence unilaterally.
However both bodies have been allowed further debate on Saturday.
In a separate development on Friday, two key Catalan separatist parties tabled a proposal to declare it an independent republic.
The proposal envisages the creation of an independent Catalan republic, a step that would remove King Felipe as head of state, as Spain is currently a constitutional monarchy.
Earlier this month, Puigdemont had signed a declaration of independence following the referendum vote, but immediately halted implementation and called for negotiations between Catalonia and the Spanish government.
The Catalan government said that of the 43 per cent who took part in the referendum, 90 per cent were in favour of independence.
But the Spanish Constitutional Court has ruled it illegal.
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